Catalogue description Coal Mines Act 1930: Central Coal Mines Scheme and District Coal Mines Scheme: Records

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Details of COAL 4
Reference: COAL 4
Title: Coal Mines Act 1930: Central Coal Mines Scheme and District Coal Mines Scheme: Records

This series contains executive board and associated committee minutes for South Wales, Midland (Amalgamated), Cumberland and Lancashire Associated collieries. Records of the latter also contain various registered financial and business files and unregistered papers which are mostly concerned with disputes.

This series also includes administrative records of the Central Coal Mines Scheme.

Date: 1930-1949

Chronological by scheme

Related material:

See also Records of Regional Organisation division in:

Division within POWE

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 402 files and volumes
Publication note:

For further information, see Barry Supple, The History of The British Coal Industry; Vol. 4, 1913-1946: The Political Economy of Decline, (Oxford, 1987) cc 7.

Administrative / biographical background:

The Coal Mines Act 1930 placed the control of coal output in the hands of the industry. It followed the voluntary associations that had appeared between 1927 and 1929 and aimed to protect wages and mitigate competition within the industry. There was a 'central scheme' for the regulation of the production and sale of coal throughout Great Britain, administered by a central council of colliery owners; and a district scheme for the regulation of the production, supply and sale of coal within the district, administered by a 'district executive board' of local colliery owners. The central council allocated a maximum output to each district, adjusted allocations, and inflicted fines where they were exceeded.

The district boards divided the allocation among the collieries, assigning to each a standard tonnage in proportion to past output, and imposing penalties for non-compliance. The price of coal was also set by the district boards but this system did not prove successful as the Central Scheme could not coordinate the prices set by the different districts. Therefore the legislation was reinforced in 1932 to allow the central scheme to give directions to the district boards as to the quantity of coal to be produced and the terms and conditions of its sale.

The 1930 Act also provided for the formation of committees of investigation to protect the interests of consumers. A national committee investigated complaints by consumers against the operation of the central scheme, and district committees investigated complaints against the district schemes. These committees consisted of an equal number of representatives of the owners and miners, with an independent chairman appointed by the Board of Trade.

At the outbreak of war the department put into action the planned organisation for coal control; this consisted of a system of coal supplies officers in the coalfields, divisional coal officers in the civil defence regions and coal export officers in the appropriate posts. A House Coal Distribution (Emergency) Scheme was also established to control domestic distribution; this was under the indirect control of the divisional coal officers. On the production side, coal production committees were set up in April 1940 whose chief function was to maximise output at district and pit level. These committees contained representatives of the owners and the unions.

Early in 1942 a system of regional controllers was created to co-ordinate and rationalise the demand for increased coal output; this absorbed the divisional coal officers. Each controller supervised the work of directors for production, labour and services. In 1942 this system of regional organisation passed into the hands of the Ministry of Fuel and Power.

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